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The Rhodesian Ridgeback Standard

FCI Standard N ° 146 / 10.12.1996

(version updated and corrected on 25/02/2014)
Rhodesian Ridgback kennel Shona out of Africa Kennel ENCI FCI Rhodesian Italy Rhodesian Rome Rhodesian Rome Rhodesian kennel Rome Rodesian kennel Italy Breeding Rhodesian kennel official enci rhodesian ridgback kennel rome kennel enci fci kennel rhodesian ridgeback kennel italy rhodesian ridgeback kennel rome rhodesian ridgeback puppies rhodesian ridgeback litter rome puppies rhodesian rhodesia dog litter african dog dog puppies dogs Rhodesian Ridgeback breeding by Carlotta Battaglia Recognized Enci Fci Since 2007 pure South African bloodlines


Southern Africa. Standard supplied by the Kennel Union of Southern Africa and the Zimbabwe Kennel Club.


USE: The Rhodesian Ridgeback is still used to hunt game in many parts of the world, but is especially prized as watchdog and family pet.

FCI CLASSIFICATION: Group 6 Scenthounds and related breeds.

Section 3 Related breeds.

Without working trial.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback is presently the only registered breed indigenous to southern Africa. Its forbears can be traced to the Cape Colony of Southern Africa, where
they crossed with the early pioneer’s dogs and the semidomesticated, ridged Hottentot hunting dogs. Hunting mainly in groups of two or three, the original function of the Rhodesian
Ridgeback or Lion dog was to track game, especially lion, and, with great agility, keep it at bay until the arrival of the hunter.
The original standard, which was drafted by F.R.Barnes, in Bulawayo, Rhodesia, in 1922, was based on that of the Dalmatian and was approved by the South African Kennel Union in 1926


The Rhodesian Ridgeback should represent a well balanced, strong, muscular, agile and active dog, symmetrical in outline, and capable of great endurance with a fair amount of speed.

The emphasis is on agility, elegance and soundness with no tendency towards massiveness.

The peculiarity of the breed is the ridge on the back, which is formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat. The ridge is the escutcheon of the breed. 


Skull: Should be of good length (the width between the ears, the distance between the occiput and the stop, and that from the stop to the tip of the nose, should be equal), flat and broad between the ears; the head, at rest, should be free from wrinkles.
Stop: Reasonably well pronounced, and not in a single straight line from nose to occiput.


Nose: black or brown. The black nose must match with dark eyes, the brown nose with amber eyes.
Muzzle: long, high, powerful.
Lips: Lean and close fitting to the jaws.
Jaws / Teeth: Strong jaws, with a perfect and complete scissor bite, with the upper teeth overlapping (matching) the lower ones and with teeth set perpendicular to the jaws. The teeth must be well developed, especially the canines.
Cheeks: Clean.
Eyes: moderately distant from each other, round, bright and alive, with intelligent expression; their color in harmony with the coat.
Ears: Set rather high, of medium size, rather broad at the base, gradually diminishing to a rounded tip. They must be worn close to the head.
NECK: It should be rather long, strong and without dewlap.


Back: powerful.
Loin: Strong, muscular and slightly arched.
Chest: not too broad, but very deep and capable; the breastbone should reach the elbow. Chest visible when viewed in profile. Ribs moderately well arched, never barrel-shaped.
TAIL: strong at the root, tapering gradually towards the tip; absolutely not coarse. Of moderate length. It must not be inserted too high or too low, and must be carried slightly curved upwards, but never rolled up.


FOREQUARTERS: Must be perfectly straight, strong and well boned, with the elbows close to the body. When viewed from the side, the forelimbs are wider than when viewed from the front.
Shoulders: Well laid back, clean and muscular.
Pasterns: Strong and slightly snappy.
HINDQUARTERS: In the hindquarters the muscles must be clean and well defined.
Knee: Well angulated.
Hock: Strong, well let down.
Feet: compact and round, with arched toes, hard and elastic pads, protected by fur between the toes and pads.
GAIT / MOVEMENT: Straight forward, free and dynamic.


Hair: short and dense, smooth and shiny in appearance, but neither woolly nor silky.
Color: from light wheat to reddish wheat. A little white on the chest and toes is allowed, but if in excess on the chest, belly and above the toes, it is undesirable. Snout and dark ears allowed. Too much black hair in the coat is highly undesirable.


Height at the withers: Males: 63 - 69 cm | Females 61 - 66 cm
Weight: Males 36.5 Kg | Females 32 Kg
DEFECTS: Any deviation from the above points must be considered as a defect and the severity with which this defect will be penalized must be in exact proportion to its severity and its effect on the health and well-being of the dog. Any dog that clearly exhibits physical or behavioral abnormalities must be disqualified.

NB: Males must have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

Rhodesian Ridgeback crest standard

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Several stories try to explain the fascinating crest of the Rhodesian Ridgeback, one of these tells that it was the paw of a lion during a hunting trip, which caused the characteristic crest on the back, others say that an orphaned Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy was cared for by a lioness who, by dint of licking him on the back, made him come up with a crest. 

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